Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Embracing Annoyances

Have you ever had one of those workouts where there seemed to be a million little annoyances plaguing you? That's pretty much how my morning run was today.


I had checked the weather before bed and the forecast was 49 degrees and 80% humidity. I was kind of looking forward to it being cooler. Tuesday's run was in the 60's, 90% humidity and just warm and muggy.

Of course, I should know better than to trust a forecast. I had pulled out running tights - my Brooks Nightlife for visibility - and a short sleeved top. I got downstairs and it was 54 degrees. Now, 54 degrees with low humidity is very different than 54 degrees with high humidity. In other words, I was very much over dressed. However, I didn't want to go back upstairs and wake Jason up rummaging around trying to find new attire.

I was fairly groggy as Maddie decided to wake us up twice during the night barking her crazy little head off. She's been doing that the past few nights. Good times. The sky was starting to get light so I put on my Brooks Nightlife arm band because I thought that'd be more visible than extra blinking lights (which I had one on).

Not fully functioning and too warm from the start, my first mile was slow. But I was ok with that. No worries. I kept telling myself, "it's good to slow down, this will be good."

But I did start to hit a good rhythm. However, the arm band was randomly pinching me so I kept having to move it around. Still, moving along at a good clip. I decided to make it a tempo run (or attempted tempo).

Then I noticed a clicking sound as my Spibelt kept riding up and shifting about. It does that when I wear tights. Very very annoying. I kept pushing it back down, tried tightening it. Still the clicking. I kept checking the location of the light and mace to see what they might be clacking on. Nothing I could find. (I later realized the pants had a back pocket with a zipper that was clacking on the closure for the belt.) I kept running ... shoving down the Spibelt, readjusting the armband, checking for the clacking ... but running.

Then my watch band shifted and started to pinch. Great, one more thing to add to the list of shifting belt, pinching armband and clacking noise. Oddly enough, focussing on those annoyances left me not thinking one bit about my pace, about the humidity and difficulty breathing, which turned out to be a bonus. With each mile of shifting, pinching, clacking and sweating, I was speeding up. Trying to run away from the annoyances?

When I got near the river I stopped to soak in the sunrise. I know some people refuse to stop during a run, I don't usually like to, however, I think it's important to enjoy the beauty first and foremost. I took that stop as a chance to readjusted everything once more, wiped the sweat from my stinging eyes and kept on going.

Despite all of the shifting, pinching, clacking, I managed to end with an 8:15 overall average for 7.3 miles. My "tempo" miles never quite hit a true tempo pace, but I managed to get some sub-7's. And for readjusting to humidity and warmer temps, I'll take that in a heartbeat.

I do (now) find it a bit amusing that all those annoyances I was so focused on actually helped me out. I didn't allow them to control the run entirely. I could have. I could have gotten angry about it. I could have let it affect my overall mood.

Have you ever had a generally annoying workout but one that was also somehow good?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eating, Running and Enjoying a Simple Weekend

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine started off nicely as I was off work on Friday. It turned out to be a weekend of eating, shopping, running and a lot of enjoying. Friday morning I got in a run then got my hair done before heading to my hometown.

I met my dad for lunch at a tasty place called Taco Mama's. The owners also have another restaurant that I really enjoy called Cafe 1217. I've been hearing great things about Taco Mama's, but have yet to try it out. I'm glad I did. I ordered their salad bowl with vegetarian filling. I'm usually leery of "vegetarian" fillings. But I was pleasantly surprised. The salad was not iceberg lettuce, a big bonus. It was filled with leafy greens, beans, rice, and a wonderful mix of zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes.

Dad and I spent about 2 hours eating and visiting before I left to meet up with my mom. Mom and I went and did a little bit of shopping at Home Goods and TJ Maxx before I had to head back home.

We met up with some friends for a short happy hour at a place on the river. They have a huge deck and the weather is finally cooperating and feeling more like spring. So, we took advantage of that. Though, it was fairly breezy so it got a little chilly just because we were on the water. But the sunshine was heavenly.



Saturday morning Jason and I headed out for a run. I had planned to at least try for 7 miles depending on how my foot was feeling. Jason dropped off around 4.5 miles and I continued on. My foot was actually feeling really good, so I ended up with 10 miles. I kept them slower, and I think that really helped.

During my run, I had the cutest experience. A week or so ago Jason and I were running and this little girl (maybe 5 years old) was outside with her mom. She spotted us and yells out, "You're running!" We waved and said hi to her and her mom and kept on trucking along.

Well, I saw her out across the street playing with another little girl. She excitedly exclaimed, "You're running!" I laughed and said, "Yes I am." She then called out, "Do you need some water?!" I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the run.

Jason and I had a late lunch and ran some errands before heading over to our friends' house to enjoy their back deck on another gorgeous afternoon.

Sunday I decided to head out for a run. It was already close to 70 degrees around 9:30. I am not quite prepared for warm-weather running. In my mind it sounds great. But my body says, "nope." I started off the first mile slowly, but then got into a good groove and decided to make it a tempo run. 5.5 miles later I was dripping, but happy.

Then it was time to get serious about yard work, which meant a trip to Home Depot. We got our garden planted, finally. We usually don't wait so late. But, I'm kind of glad we did since we have had recent freezes even this late in the season. Now to be patient and watch everything grow. 




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Friday, April 18, 2014

Fun for Friday - Things I'm Happy About

Happy Friday friends. I feel very lucky that my company gives us Good Friday off. My day will be spent getting my hair done then lunch with my dad, shopping with my mom then topped off with happy hour with my husband and close friends.

I've had one of those weeks where I've  been up and down with my mood. I'm focusing on the ups though and making it a point to end on an up note. So, I thought the most appropriate thing for Fun For Friday would be to share my happies for the week:

Sunshine: Even though our temps have been way below normal (um 32 degrees for a morning run?) at least it's been sunny.

Interacting with Clients: I love chatting with my clients, especially when they are excited about workouts and accomplishments.

Running with Amy Wednesday: We enjoyed some interesting sites like one man tugging on a chain fence as if he was wake boarding and one interesting fellow twerking down the sidewalk. You never know what you might see on a run.

Food Should Taste Good: Came home to a box of their new "puffs" flavors on Thursday. Can't wait to dig into each bag!

Time with family and friends Friday: Happening as this is posted ;-)

What has made you happy this week?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Don't Apologize for Living


There was a time when I would apologize for not having blogged for a day, and would have begged for forgiveness for missing four days. But that feels like a lifetime ago and terribly silly. Seriously, why apologize for living, for living in your moments rather than blogging about the moments?

The thing is, I often read blog posts about living, being in the moment, being present. But at the same time there are no blogging breaks, no lapses in tweeting, instagraming, facebooking. I'm not pointing any fingers mind you. It's just an observation. And I think many times the posts are meant to be encouraging. But the blogger should follow through too right?

And the thing is, I get it. As a blogger, if you miss a few posts, aren't on all the social media channels all the time, you get forgotten. Quickly. And that kind of makes me a bit sad. So if you want to keep your readers, if you want to keep your engagement up, then you have to be "on" all the time. You have to share, post, tweet, etc. 

So where does living in the moment, being present come into play? Can you be present but be plugged in? Honestly, I'm going to say, "no." How can bloggers make time to truly be present, to really unplug and be in the moment but also stay connected and engaged? 

And it's not just about having the most readers, page views, unique visitors, comments, shares … not for me. But I love the comments on my blog. I love the interaction with my friends. And, honestly, it's also about trying to promote my business. But there are times when it can take over. 

I can easily spend 30 minutes or more responding to comments. That's time I'm not taking for myself. It's time I'm not enjoying being outside, enjoying just talking with Jason, or even playing with the dogs. It's time spent plugged in. No, I don't have to respond. I want to. Someone took time to comment and I want to return that with a reply, with a conversation. I love hearing from friends. 

I don't really have any answers in this rambling post. Not really any coherent thoughts. But then again, blogging can be that way right? It's not always about informative posting, about reviews and giveaways, about awesomely inspiring words of wisdom. Sometimes, sometimes it's simply personal words, thoughts, feelings. 

And sometimes I believe that blogging has moved away from that, from personal more towards informative. This isn't all bad mind you. I learn a lot every day. I am inspired every day. But sometimes I feel like I'm missing the person behind the posts. 

How can bloggers be present, be genuine (but also informative), and also remain engaged? Here are my thoughts. Many may disagree, but that's ok because they are my thoughts right?

  • Schedule time to completely unplug, don't just talk about it.
  • Take blogging breaks without any guilt or apologies. 
  • Include your voice and personality especially with informative & review posts.
  • Be human. Life isn't always sunshine and puppy dogs.
  • Avoid jumping on the proverbial bandwagon. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fun for Friday - Runners' Contradictions


I think most people would agree, even runners themselves, that runners are a strange lot. We speak in code sometimes talking about 400s, 800s, BQing, DNS, DNF, and so on. Another thing I've noticed about runners is that we tend to contradict ourselves quite often. We say things like, "I hate racing." Then we brag about signing up for races. That's smart isn't it?

Wind


  • I hate the wind. Typically said when it's cold and/or gusting 20+ mph.
  • OMG where is the wind??? Usually uttered on a hot, muggy run.
  • Oh man that wind feels fantastic. Shouted with glee during the summer. 

Rain


  • I hate rain. Usually grumbled during the winter, torrential downpour, or when it's gusting winds.
  • I love running in the rain. Either said during the summer or right after a rainy run when you're giddy and don't know what you're thinking and saying. 

Temperature


  • I hate running in the freezing cold. Said angrily during the cold, dark winter mornings when you're dressed in multiple layers of everything and sleet is pelting your eyeballs. 
  • Ugh, it's never ever going to warm up. Muttered in the early spring when we're just happy to wear a single layer of clothing. 
  • Man I wish it would cool off again. Said during the summer when we've forgotten what 14 degrees feels like and we're melting because it's 90 degrees at 5 am. 

Time


  • I hate getting up early to run. Uttered when the alarm jolts you awake at 5 am.
  • I love running in the morning. Said dreamily when you see a sunrise or when you're done and you know you're DONE for the day.
  • I love running after work. Said usually when the temperatures are ideal after work (warmer, but not too warm).
  • I hate running after work. Grumbled when you are worn out from the day and it's now too hot to run. 
  • I love running at lunch. Said when the weather is absolutely perfect and you need to get outside.
  • I don't like to run at lunch. Usually said when your stomach is about to eat itself or the weather went south.

Foam Roller


  • I love my foam roller. Said after you're done using it and your muscles are happy.
  • I hate that torture device. Said with a whimper when you're just starting to roll out a knot. 

Traffic


  • Ugh, I hate traffic, why are all these cars out. Said with an annoyed humph when you had to stop yet again, totally disrupting your flow.
  • Love traffic, so happy it's busy today. Thought secretly when you're struggling during a run and the only way you'll allow yourself to stop is when traffic forces you to do so at intersections. 
What are some of your running or workout contradictions?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Think Positively


Do you ever have those moments when you really just need some inspiration, some words of wisdom? We all have ups and downs, we get sick, we get injured, we have bad days. I'm not going to bore anyone with my issues, annoyances, grievances. I do try to stay positive, as much as I can. Sometimes we need gentle reminders though.

So today I'm going to try to think positively about problems. Care to join me?  


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chipotle Maple Tofu Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Do you ever make dishes that sound like they're meant for one season, but actually can be good in another season? Last week I did just that.

I had a butternut squash that needed to be used, but I really wasn't sure how I wanted to use it. I also had some red quinoa stashed in the freezer, so I started to think about ways to incorporate the quinoa with the squash. I decided that a salad sounded good.

I know that it's spring, but it sure isn't feeling much like spring around here. So the comforting flavors of fall actually sounded appealing. I love the sweetness of butternut squash pared with the tartness of dried cranberries. But I also really like some spice to my food.

I ended up trying out a new marinade/dressing for tofu using maple syrup, something I almost never use unless a specific recipe calls for it. But maple syrup, butternut squash and cranberries sounded more like a desert. This is where the chipotle peppers come into play. The smoky heat helps offset the sweetness of the other ingredients without being over-powering.


Chipotle Maple Tofu Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Ingredients:
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup no-salt vegetable broth
2-3 tbsp minced red onion
3 - 3 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tbsp dried chipotle peppers flakes (could also use chipotle in adobo)
1 tbsp parsley
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Several handfuls of fresh spinach (could also use frozen or even kale)
2 cups red quinoa, cooked
Toasted pecans, chopped (optional and as many as you prefer)
1/4 - 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Whisk together broth, onions, maple syrup, chipotle peppers, parsley, salt, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Poor over tofu and allow to marinate at least 1 hour or overnight. Reserve the marinade to use as a dressing.

When tofu has marinated, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel, remove seeds and cube butternut squash. Toss with small drizzle of olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake approximately 20 minutes, stir and bake an additional 15-20 until tender. At the same time, bake your tofu flipping once halfway through and baking until golden and firm.

Prepare quinoa according to package instructions.

While the quinoa is warm, toss with spinach and cranberries so that it helps wilt the lettuce and soften the cranberries. Set aside to cool. When the tofu and butternut squash are ready, toss with the quinoa, add in the pecans and any remaining chipotle maple marinade.

What's great about this salad is that it can be eaten warm, room temp or cold. This makes it perfect pretty much all year if you ask me. You could easily leave out the tofu and serve as a side dish. Lentils would be quite good in this as well.

Jason and I both raved about how well it turned out. I was very pleased at how perfectly all the flavors and textures played together.

I think that part of the key to a good dish is having a variety of textures and a nice depth to the flavors. It doesn't have to be complicated. You don't have to use a million ingredients to get that depth and richness, it's just about pairing the right ingredients together so that they compliment one another. Maybe a bit like a relationship no?